Thursday, November 4, 2010


As most of you know for many years Hollywood had two major trade papers....VARIETY, which published a weekly and daily version, and THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER which only published daily. THR went through bankruptcy awhile back and now has been relaunched with much fanfare. THR"s new goal is this.....their own words...." create the single most intelligent, compelling, inspired and irresistable read in the entertainment industry. To create something that you not only need to read but want to read." Bold words!

A few weeks back I got an email from them stating that I was one of a few (probably bull) select people that were picked for a free three month trial subscription to the "relaunched" version and even if I elected to receive the free copies I still may not be one of the final "chosen few" (probably even more bull). So, all in all, I said, "yes...please send me a free month trial subscription without any risks attached."

I forgot all about it until yesterday when THR's "Premiere Issue" arrived in the mail (a weekly publication and not a daily one)....looking very slick and well produced on first glance and, lo and behold, it is in the same size as our magazines used to be back in the day before all mags went into their squatty versions and the cover is printed on stock much, much thicker than the interior back in the day.

But and I do mean but....even though I liked this issue and it has some good reading in it, it doesn't have the feel at all of a trade magazine, let alone a major one at that, and, to me, it definitely doesn't live up to the hype printed above and taken from this issues's "Letter From The Editor." It just appears to be a slicker version of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY which is one of my favorite, to be redundant, entertainment publications. Even so....I am looking forward to THR's next issue..but in no way will I subscribe when my free trial ends. A year's subscription, even with my "special" deal would cost over $200 and in no way does this price justify my continuing to get it....if I were movie stars like Dan and raymie and could write off the subscription....then maybe....Naaaaahhhh.

We talk about inflation. When I arrived in Hollywod in late '67 both THR and DV were each one thin dime....and I used to buy my copies from Billy Curtis....yes that Billy Curtis...who had a little (no pun intended) portable news stand near Hollywood and Vine that he would set up each morning to sell the trades and the local papers. At that time THE HOLLYWOOD CITIZEN NEWS was still being published, as well as THE HERALD EXAMINER along with the venerable LA TIMES. Ahhhhh those were the days my friends.

Saturday, April 24, 2010


This is a story that I have never heard before....I am not passing judgment on anyone nor am I condemning anyone's sexual orientation. I just think the facts are somewhat bizarre and humorous... and interesting.

CONFIDENTIAL MAGAZINE seemed to treat Van Johnson's sexuality more delicate that others of a similar nature. (They wanted to OUT Rock Hudson but Universal-International sold Rory Calhoun down the river and they published the story of Rory's juvenile crime history and dumped the Hudson story.)

When Johnson signed up with MGM in 1942 Benny Thau, MGM"s personnel chief, asked Johnson's agent, "Do we have a situation here?" There was something about Johnson that had spurred questions about his sexuality from the very beginning of his career. "Later there had been rumors that Johnson was carrying on an affair with actor Keenan Wynn, his best friend. Johnson, an awkward introvert, spent much of his time with Wynn and Wynn's wife, Eve. .....Questions later circulated about the nature of this menage a trois and many Hollywood insiders assumed or became convinced that Van's relationship with Keenan had a sexual component." (I find it hilarious that Van Johnson and Keenan Wynn might have been lovers.)

Keenan's father, comic Ed Wynn, reflected on the confusion. "I can't keep them straight," he said in a 1946 interview. "Evie loves Keenan. Keenan loves Evie. Van loves Evie. Evie loves Van. Van loves Keenan. Keenan loves Van."

CONFIDENTIAL reported that Johnson had revealed his homosexual tendencies when he was called before the draft board in 1941. (Later the army did an investigation to determine whether Johnson was faking his homosexuality to evade the draft.) Van told the FBI that he was making an effort to return to normal living and was continuing his "desperate" effort to rid himself of his abnormality.

But it took a a tragedy in Van Johnson's life to make him "succeed." The tragedy was an automobile accident which left Johnson with a fractured skull and "miracle of miracles" occurred. Johnson not only recovered his health but his heterosexuality and eloped to Juarez, Mexico in January 1947 with Eve Wynn, his best friend's wife.

In 1999 Eve finally explained the circumstances..."They (MGM) needed their big star to be married to quell rumors about his sexual preference and unfortunately I was the only woman he would marry. Mayer (Louie, head of MGM) decide that unless I married Van, he wouldn't renew Keenan's contract. I was young and stupid enough to let Mayer manipulate me. I divorced Keenan, married Van."

Eve Wynn separated from, reconciled with, and in 1962 finally divorced Johnson. Her son, Ned Wynn, claimed the final act was precipitated by Van's affair with a boy in the cast of THE MUSIC MAN, in which Johnson was performing.

Well into his eighties, Johnson, was still somewhat in denial about his sexual orientation and would kid himself, intimate friends stated, that he was never a homosexual. " Van would rather ignore an aspect of his life that might cause controversy or damage his image."

I must admit that Johnson was pretty darn good, and I enjoyed his performance, as Holley in "BATTLEGROUND." And, who can forget Keenan Wynn as Colonel 'Bat" Guano in "DR. STRANGELOVE?"

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Friends I've been neglecting my blog for some time now. Had to return and share my thoughts on "THE GLORY GUYS" written by the great Sam Peckinpah

Found THE GLORY GUYS on TH!S the other day and tivo'd it. Finally watched it....remembering that I saw it when I was in college....probably the last time. Disappointing and not very good as the leads could have been much better. Tom Tryon is okay …he was a fan favorite as Disney’s Texas John Slaughter….but Harve Presnell is totally out of his element and totally lost in the saddle as an Army scout that looks like he needs a back brace to sit up straight….and that wig? Nuf said. At any moment I expected ol’ Harve to try and sit tall in the saddle and start singing THEY CALL THE WIND MARIA(H) (Found it spelled both ways.)

Saving grace is Slim Pickens as good as ever and maybe even better. Just love that guy…..even when he side-kicked B-Western and the last of the singing cowboys, Rex Allen. James Caan had a supporting role but played an Irishman with an irritating accent. What almost caught me by surprise was that it was written by Sam Peckinpah....but then I remembered he was supposed to have directed it and was replaced by Arthur Laven of "Levy, Gardner, Laven" fame. (Apparently Sam wrote the script early on from the novel THE DICE OF GOD which was a fictional version of Custer at The Little Bighorn, while still doing scripts for Gunmoke and before he started "working" for LGL and then later sold in to them.)

Between 1965 and into 1966 Sam's money situation became so bad that he actually sold his rights to THE WESTERNER to Dick Powell's FOUR STAR ENTERPRISES for a measly $10,000. AND, according to Garner Simmons in his excellent book on Sam, "PECKINPAH A Portrait in Montage," the only project to be produced during this time with Sam's name on it was a cavalry western THE GLORY GUYS which was owned by LGL." Sam hated the movie as directed by Laven (for many reasons) but mainly because he felt the final film shifts the focus away from the Indian-whites conflict promulgated by a Custer-like General (Andrew Duggan) and concentrates on a love triangle involving a captain (Tryon), a scout (Presnell) and a fallen woman (Senta Berger). Simmons sums it up thusly..."It remains at best another example of the lack of communication between Peckinpah and Levy, Gardner, Laven" I agree 100 percent with Sam on this one....the love triangle totally, and I do mean totally, messes up a great western script that had a lot of potential going in.

One thing I did not remember is that Riz Ortolani did the score, and sadly to say it is very disappointing. Even though Riz wrote the music between scoring several spaghetti westerns his music here is pedestrian and sounds like any typical 50’s to 60’s Hollywood western score. Nothing to write home about, or to go off humming. If Ortolani had done a spaghetti score or at least aluded to one it would have made the movie at least some-what more tolerable. Thanks goodness when a movie is tivo’d you can fast forward through a lot of the drek.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

NAKED CITY the movie

Recently I watched the Criterion dvd of this noir classic....first movie to be filmed mostly on location, thus making the City of New York another chracter in the film. Stars Barry Fitzgerald, radio's Sam Spade Howard Duff (here playing a character on the other side of the law), Don Taylor (he of FIVE MAN ARMY fame) and Ted de Corsia (memorable in numerous westerns as an overweight henchman/villain) but here as a fit, exercise conscious bad guy.

What really got me is the numerous actors, here uncredited, that went on to become well known character actors....James (Barney Miller-The Manchurian Candidate-Sons of Katy Elder) Gregory, Paul (Sgt. Bilko-The Music Man-A Big Hand For The Little Lady) Ford, Kathleen (Jerry Lewis's favorite foil) Freeman, John (A Man Called Sledge-The Godfather), Bruce (The Untouchables) Gordon, John (Serpico), Arthur (Man of the West-Picnic) O'Connell, Nehemiah (Day Of The Outlaw-The Badlanders) Persoff, David (numerous guest appearances in all genres) Opatoshu, Molly(Fiddler On The Roof-but never in a western) Picon, Russ (who at one time seemed to be on every tv show at the same time) Conway and Walter (36 western appearancs) Burke.

Friday, January 29, 2010


I don't know why I keep thinking about ol' Randy and his westerns. Guess it's because a bunch has been poppin' up lately on Encore Westerns and TCM ("CARIBOU TRAIL" will be airin' on TCM this Friday the 29th at 3:30pm PT). Words can't describe how much I have been enjoying these oaters. I have had a lot of catching up to do. For so many years, especially when I was a kid, I did not like Scott or his movies. Don't know why since I enjoyed the heck out of those awful "B" westerns Republic used to crank out.

So I started doing a little investigating to see if there were any books written about Randy or his films and found out that there were only a few and most of them, from the reviews, seem to be pretty poor. There's one by his son C.H. Scott called 'WHATEVER HAPPENED TO RANDOLPH SCOTT?" which deals more with a son and his father than a book about his films. (I put it on hold at the library...mebbe I read it years ago. I don't remember.)

Others I discovered are "RANDOLPH SCOTT: A FILM BIOGRAPHY" by Jefferson Brim Crow and "THE FILMS OF RANDOLPH SCOTT by Robert Nott....both published in October of 1994 by Empire Press. Crow also had published in 1989 "RANDOLPH SCOTT: THE GENTLEMAN FROM VIRGINIA: A FILM BIOGRAGPHY" and Nott wrote and had published in 2000 "LAST OF THE COWBOY HEROES: THE WESTERNS OF RANDOLPH SCOTT, JOEL MCCREA AND AUDIE MURPHY."

Anyone have any input on these books?

Share Twitter